Some people are slow learners. I am starting to think that might be okay, so long as at some point they do learn.
I had a moment of success the other day. I am in charge of, on a good day, at least one complete waste of oxygen. It seems that the moment one improves, another one becomes more vapid in order to make up for the fact that there might be a few extra synapses firing elsewhere in the room. I prefer days that are balanced, when everyone has their share of idiot ideas, because if we all share the load it can be managed. Yes, I am included in this, particularly if I lose my temper or if I took my red pills. My stupidity just seems to be in the form of doing things like realizing that my computer is warm and using it as a headwarmer when everyone else gives me a headache. I think it’s therapeutic; my warrant says I should just get a hat.
At the same time, even though I know everyone else will contribute idiocy to make up for it, I still like breakthroughs of intelligence once in awhile. I think they give me hope that perhaps all is not lost with some of the people put in my charge. They are slow learners, but I think two and a half years later one of them might finally be getting it.
This one has, since being medicated to quell some of his more peculiar tendencies, taken to calling me “Boss” (which was stopped… fast) and sometimes calls his male Soldiers “Bud” (which I let go a few times only because it creeped out the Soldiers, which was most amusing to watch). He thinks it makes him more friendly and approachable. Really, it makes him creepy and unprofessional. His major issue is he doesn’t like making people upset, because he wants desperately to be liked. The desperation is sad, and the fact that he rarely will reprimand his Soldiers is just plain annoying. I think one of his Soldiers might like him, but only because he is nice and she doesn’t strike me as terribly bright. She might improve one day, but I am not expecting to see it in my lifetime. But most of the time he just lets things slide and tries to make up for their deficiencies in order to keep me appeased. He doesn’t want me angry, but he also doesn’t want to make his Soldiers upset. A conundrum when there is work to do.
Enter his cynical and somewhat disillusioned supervisor: Me. One of his charges, due to time in service, might be eligible for a promotion board appearance soon. This, I would like to mention, is a concept that should everyone lose sleep at night if only so I have someone to talk to from staying awake in my terror. As such, I need to do my most-senior-non-commissioned-officer-in-the-office duties and ensure she recognizes that I have a strong belief in standards being met for promotion, standards she knows but does not meet. She has a lot to improve on that he rarely enforces, but I want this guy to really start being a supervisor, so I asked for his input before her counseling.
I think he was thrilled that he could be mean without actually having to be mean, because I was going to do the actual mean bit for him. I had him put his thoughts regarding this particular Soldier in writing, so I could incorporate them into standards for her to meet. I expected little, and so was actually pleasantly surprised when he delivered some very astute observations. Given the opportunity, he actually showed a glimmer of potential. He noted most of the main problems with her, in short, that she is usually the one taking up the precious oxygen.
This being an important counseling, I told him that he will be present, but I am going to give it. In exchange, he provided the list of things I believe he would like to say to her, but would prefer the Big Bad Me tell her instead since I already have a reputation for letting them know when they are not meeting my standards. He is still not at the level of bravery it takes to actually communicate these things to her in anything other than a fatherly, kind way, which goes right through the space between her ears and doesn’t even pause to check out the scenery in her skull, but he is at least noticing what needs to be noticed at some level even if he does nothing about it. Still annoying, but at least he is observing. A huge sigh of relief can be heard throughout the ranks.
Basically, he is learning. It took him two and a half years, but he can finally identify some of the qualities needed in a good Soldier and recognize when those qualities are lacking. Baby steps, and very slow baby steps, but at least they are steps. I felt at least a tiny bit less nervous of leaving him in charge of a few Soldiers in the spring, which is something. I take my job very seriously, and had major concerns about leaving him as the head babysitter, whether I like the Soldiers I would leave him with or not. I still wouldn’t leave him alone with, say, any of my friends’ children, but we are working on it.
My concern right now is where the brain power he used is going to come from. My warrant already hides under his desk and sulks when the acting first sergeant calls and asks for him to do something, but that is his normal behavior. I have too much to get done in the next few weeks to go stupid on everyone, and I don’t think his Soldiers can take on the responsibility of more stupidity when there is already so much going around. There is the hope that this was a glitch, and all else will remain status quo while he actually learns something, but I have my doubts… particularly with as much paperwork as I have floating around the system at the moment. Physics says that energy is a constant, and I say that so is intelligence within the Army. He gained, so something else must lose… now it is just to determine where.
But where there is hope for him, perhaps there is hope for others. Perhaps this means that people in this machine I love to hate can actually get things together once in awhile, if only for a fleeting moment. Perhaps this could be a breakthrough in the world of Army Physics, and a new and better day is on the horizon.
Oh. Nope. Nevermind. False alarm. Just got the message that I have to resubmit every piece of paper I might have put into the system since September. Glad to see the system is up and running… had me worried for a minute there.